Chapter 1: The Child - Lund, Sweden, 2016
The child sat on the stepping stones of the large house. It seemed as if the world would swallow it whole along with him. Moving from one place to another, leaving old faces for new faces, familiar ones for strange ones.
Leaving everything in place as it was, as it would be, and as it would continue to be. It hurt to think about it, but it was impossible not to.
The voices in his head went through a dialogue. The bright versus the dark, the glass half full versus the glass half empty. What was brilliant about new things shone obvious in the illumination of a future self. But the opposite stood just as stark.
"Why are you sad, self?" said the bright.
"It is not a question of why, but for how long. These things happen and they pass. But it is inevitably sad to leave. Leaving is sad." said the dark.
"This is true. But leaving is also happy. New places and new things. Opportunity for reinvention, learning, living. It is a runway for the passing of a lit baton, burning bright in the stretch of a life that we can't yet see."
"It is happy. I know that. But it is sad. There are both. And we must take time for both. I would cry in my own arms. I would jump in joy until I could touch the blue sky above. But it is silly to do either of these things. Because to do both is implausible. Yet both is rational."
"Then choose one. If we cannot do both, choose one. And choose the one that allows you to live better in this moment. Because both will still exist in the future, but the one you choose will shine stronger than the other. Sadness turns into longing, happiness turns into nostalgia."
"But which to choose? My heart is heavy. My soul is light."
"Let that which is light bring up that which is down."
"Choose fulfillment. Choose enjoying the things you will miss and the things you are sad for, during the time that you can."
The child sat on the stepping stones of the large house. It seemed as if the world would lift it up along with him.
Chapter 2: Solo Traveler - Kyoto, Japan, 2016
The boy looked at himself in his thoughts, suspended in a question of why, what, and how. How to fix what isn't yet right, what to do in the face of disturbance, why the world just wasn't the way he wanted it to look.
A picture of beauty and sorrow that had no clear, or comfortable, or sensible slot for his figure. His self. He spoke in his thoughts, to the clock ticking in his brain, an eery noise hour after hour, disappointment after disappointment, joy after joy.
What was all of this? Happy was then, happy is now. Unhappy was then, unhappy is now. Fluctuations between bright and dark, warm and cold. It felt relentless to exist in an empty space of answerless bounds. To feel an empty void that might usually be filled, but not today. Not now. Not here.
He traveled many worlds, many people, many dreams and many doubts. Judgement, acceptance. Agreement, discordance. What each travel gave him was unsurmountable - indescribable in words, indefinable in worth. But there he stood, unsure.
The world can be harsh, the world can be cruel. People can be enemies, enemies can be friends. The line between a happy life and a disturbed life is not one that provides its investigators with a clear warning of where not to step. Home. Home. Home. Home. Family. Friends.
It will pass, he thinks. He knows this. But the passing is the hardest part, to sit there amidst the toil and tumble of loneliness. Yet he wanted this adventure. He wanted this growth.
"I am happy," he said. "Just not now."
"I am understood," he said. "Just not now."
Perseverance flooded his wounds, and lifted his soul. The heart that shines bright, defines character, and rests easy in the life he knew was good, fluttered back into confidence.
Self-doubt the droplets of rain washing down an umbrella. Judgement the dirt on the soles of his feet, to be washed away inevitably. Reborn, remastered. He was there, he was clear, and life was once at equilibrium.
Chapter 3: Fireworks of Togetherness - Kyoto, Japan, 2016
Fireworks sprung into the dark mocha sky, exploding in a grand, fantastic nature. Everything glowed, from the bustle of the city to the crevices of the mountains to the east. Blue, orange, yellow - colors of every imagination flew into life, and extended joy from one viewer to the next.
But these fireworks were not real.
She stood, gazing up at them, in wonder and in awe. They were not real. But they were magnificent.
The fireworks were what she felt, and what she felt she saw.
The people around her, the joy they gave her, the companionship they showed her, and the love they unlocked from within her. Her heart grew and grew, and she never wanted it to stop.
It was all like fireworks. What she felt she saw.
And she felt on the brink of explosion. A heart so large, so filled with the places and people she discovered, learned, and loved, felt so full that it might be impossible to love anymore than this.
But she knew it was possible. This is what these people showed her. The confidence in loving the world, and the boundless limits to the action and reception of love itself.
Colors and cultures, shapes and characters. The fireworks exploded in reminiscence of past love, and in celebration of present.
Light shone far past her scope of view, illuminating the unlit areas of the city outskirts and the moonlit mountains, a testimony to the love, the life, and the warmth that would envelop the future.
"These people I love," she thought.
"These places I adore."
"And this world I have fallen for."
Chapter 4: Sunset - Oahu, Hawaii, 2016
He rippled his fingers through the golden sand. It covered him in warmth, in love, and in life. Like a family of friends, a family of his own, a world that held a future, a present, which he could trust and hold dear.
The ocean waves swept in and out, washed over and under, telling stories that were yet to be written, insisting a sense of calm that allowed all of its listeners voice sighs of relief.
"It is okay," he thought.
Life comes in tumbles of confusion. Hurricanes of doubt. Bouts of misbelief and pure wonder. The motions of finding answers to the things that don't make sense gives rise to states that can be quite unsettling. When we read about the repressed lives around the world, voices left unheard, thoughts and visions that piece together broken identities. It is uncomfortable to remember that life is not a simple, pretty picture. Perhaps more unpleasing to arrive at the question: What can I do? Moral integrity.
There are particular moments that revive our trust, instill our comforts, and remind us what it is in the world we fight for: Most things. The blazing sun that settles beneath violet clouds. Quiet, intense emotions at the whispered exit of a sunset.
"Pure joy", he thought. Pure joy, he felt.
People laid on the sand, watching the horizon, as a unified echo of warmth spread throughout the air, more poignant than the salt in the sea. Music bellowed in mild tones, conversation murmured in softened hues. Orange, red, blue, purple - shades of life and love.
This is the life we fight for. This is the life we love. Some people don't have it, not as much as others. This life, for everyone. This life, for all. Celebrate it. Share it. Protect it. Sounds of joy from previous places, feelings of warmth from previous people. They flooded his senses in a symphony of recognition and realization. Colors of life danced in the air and instilled its own energy, static one of sorts. One, he concluded, that carried others to carry those who could no longer carry themselves.
To lead, to love, and to wander. The sun set.